Village Wedding Relleu
Outside Pepé’s two teenage orchids murmur to a tulip
as an elderly bull snorts through his caporal;
brick courses wander below the martin’s nests
tucked beneath the iglesia pediment.
Two lorries growl towards Torremanzanas;
‘Is that a tower of apples?’ I ask
in the impasse of not much happening
but my companions check their bags of crude rice.
From the barranco bancal Joaquina’s turkeys
declaim ‘this really is intolerable, quite, quite intolerable’
Around us the talk hums and buzzes off warm stone
and discarded plums beneath benches seethe with wasps.
At last the doors are flung wide and the company
dawdle out of the nave’s shadows and ribboned pews.
The blizzard erupts, a stinging, blistering hurtle;
the white figure and black cower and turn their backs.
They say if the rice draws blood it’s a year’s luck.
After the torrent the bride ignites the traca fuse
with a cigar stub puffed by the man who stepped down
from the dark Last Supper in the side chapel.
Cordite wreathes around the company in the Plaza
and the rubbed thighs of the valley crackle with echoes.
This poem was shortlisted for the Times Literary Supplement prize in 1999. It is included in the bilingual collection 'Al Otro Lado del Aguilar' (Oversteps Books) ISBN 978 1 906856 18 2 which was co-authored with the poet Terry Gifford.